A giant trout statue welcomes you to Preston, Minnesota. Downtown, a bicycle rack shaped like the fish jumps out of the sidewalk. The city has dubbed itself “Minnesota’s Trout Capital,” so it’s only natural that its new brewery, opening August 15 next to the National Trout Center, would name itself accordingly—Trout City Brewing—and prominently feature a vibrant rainbow trout in its logo.
Longtime Preston residents and Trout City co-owners Anita and Andy Bisek always knew they were going to play off of the trout theme of the city with their brewery. “Preston adopted the National Trout Center concept,” Andy says. “Always been known for trout fishing. People equate Preston as a trout city.”
Trout branding isn’t the only way the couple wants to honor Preston. The Biseks bought a 130-year-old former bank downtown in order to remodel it and save a bit of history. After purchasing the building in April of 2018, the brewery concept came quickly. “Initially we thought we’d rent it out; we didn’t plan on a business,” Anita says. “The more we did, the more we thought this could be a kitchen, this could be a brewery, this could be a bar.”
The building, most recently an antique store, had unique challenges but also rewards. The original safe was still inside and now doubles as one of the bathrooms—the door of which may very well be the heftiest in any brewery in Minnesota. The Biseks think the fireplace is also original, as is the cement tile they found underneath the carpet.
“The woodwork, trim, and 14-foot tall ceilings,” Anita says of what she really likes about the building. “And the stained glass windows are gorgeous. They’re original to the building.”
“We’re glad it was usable and savable,” Andy adds.
If the Biseks sound like they are really into the history of this building, it’s because they have a history of buying homes to restore and renovate. Renovating became a bit of a second career for Andy after working for IBM in Rochester. Most recently, the duo renovated and sold a Victorian-style house.
But renovating a place to run a brewpub is definitely a new venture for the couple. To make that leap, they hired their son Curt to brew the beer, since he had experience brewing beer in Lanesboro at 2 Rivers Brewery, which ceased operations about four years ago.
Currently, the brewpub is only serving guest beers. The brewpub plans to have its own house beers on tap after Labor Day. As for what kind of beer they’ll be serving, it’s simple: “I think my beer philosophy is summed up in our slogan: just good beer,” Curt says. “We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel, just putting our touch on classics with great taste and drinkability as our goal.”
Along with the beers made in-house on the two-barrel brewing system, complete with four fermentors, the brewpub will also host guest taps. Plus, if they get busy enough, the Biseks own an adjoining building that could be converted into a brewhouse to increase their capacity.
“There’s a big excitement; we’ve done a couple soft openings and the locals are appreciative of something new to town,” Andy says.
Even people considered older, as the couple put it, are excited. Why? Because they’re eager to bring their kids who are visiting home and have grown up with craft beer. “It’s fun to see them have a place to bring their kids in town, a place their kids like to go—that’s encouraging,” Anita says.
Complementing the brewpub’s beer selection are five sandwiches—such as chicken salad, pulled pork, and Swedish meatballs—and standard bar food, plus fresh-brewed coffee.
“We’re hoping to have something for everybody but our focus is still beer,” Andy says. “It’s exciting; the soft opening was scary but went well, and I think we’re ready.”
As Preston residents for 25 years, and local to southeast Minnesota for 40 years, the couple says they want to add to the allure and charm of the city that has kept them there. “We hope this is a good addition and one more reason to come to Preston,” Anita says.
For now, Trout City will stay small and local. Eventually, they’d like to offer Crowlers and growlers. But the Biseks’ hope is to grow to be a place for Preston, a place for visiting trout fishermen, and those who normally would pass on by.
Brewer: Curt Bisek
Beers: Blonde ale, rye IPA, pale ale, and oatmeal stout (Update: Trout City’s house beers are expected to be ready after Labor Day)
Address:132 St. Anthony Street South, Preston, MN
Hours: Thu–Sat: 8:30am–8:30pm; Sun: Noon–5pm
Opening: August 15, 2019